30 June 2009

Spending v cuts line to be dumped

Not a good day in the bunker.  Not only has the UK economy contracted by 2.4% in the first quarter of 2009, the largest for 51 years, and Lloyds made a further 2100 job cuts, but the Cabinet have finally realised the investment versus cuts line is not working.  The message is to be refined.  Gary Gibbon has the surprising news:

The new mantra is supposed to be “more realistic”, with messages like “the next 10 years are NOT going to be like the last 10 years”.

There will be more talk of “targeted investment” not pure “spending”, more focus on “efficiency savings”.

Brown central is in a right pickle.  After yesterday's PR disaster by Mandy, the Cabinet have now concluded that what Brown has shouting about for last few weeks is rubbish.

It seems like Cameron was spot on yesterday when he said to Brown:

Is there anybody out there? Is there anybody in there?

Just remember we all have another nine months of these ever changing falsehoods to put up with.

Digg This

How to spend £200m on six families

Just six families have been helped by the government's £200m mortgage rescue scheme.  The number of families helped has risen from two to six during May.

Ian Austin, the housing minister, said:

The impact of the scheme is accelerating.

He is spot on.  Help is up by 300%.

When the scheme was introduced in January it was said that up to 6000 households would be helped.

All spin and no action from a Government that has run out of ideas.

Digg This

McBride has a 2nd birthday inside a week

Ede Balls admitted the other day that he had spoken to Damian Mcbride to wish to him happy birthday.  Listening to Balls this morning, McBride must be one of those rare creatures that has a 2nd birthday within a few days.  Balls said this on Sky:

I think there is a thread of aggression, bullying language and schoolboy behaviour in the way David Cameron is behaving in the House of Commons.

No surprises for guessing where that little sound bite came from.

Not Flash.  Just McBride

Digg This

Building Britain's future: The morning after


As usual with Brown one must wait for the dust to settle before the truth emerges following the rehashed re-launch of old policies.  The Times reports:

Gordon Brown has raided the health, education and transport budgets to fund 30,000 extra “social” homes in a hastily assembled re-launch heavily influenced by Lord Mandelson.

There was immediate confusion in Whitehall last night as departments appeared not to be aware that they were supposed to be funding the £1.5 billion centrepiece of the Government’s pre-election fight back.

Just more of the same from Brown.  Not even Mandy can change our leader’s ways  If that wasn't enough to put a dampener on the start of Labour’s election campaign or Brown’s last stand, then Rachel Sylvester has more:

Privately, many ministers are in despair. “There is nothing there,” says one. “We’re going to be out of power for years.” One of Mr Brown’s longest-standing supporters in the Cabinet admitted to a colleague recently that he had made a mistake. “I knew Gordon’s weaknesses but I thought they would be lessened by becoming Prime Minister, and that his strengths would increase,” he told his fellow minister. “I was wrong.”

“It’s dressed up in the language of empowerment but it’s nothing of the sort,” says a former Cabinet minister. “Yet again it’s Government by focus group, a hotch-potch of policies with no unifying theme.”

A Cabinet minister, who is loyal to Mr Brown, says: “It’s a bit like when a husband has an affair. It’s not enough for him to buy his wife a bunch of flowers; he has to really prove that he’s changed.”

In conclusion:

The next election campaign is going to be a cynical and dirty fight. Now it is clear why: the party has no really substantial positive plans for the future. In his inauguration speech Barack Obama said: “We have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over discord.” Mr Brown is clinging to fear and dividing lines because he has still not found a message of hope.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there will be more clever trickery to be revealed during the long march to the polls.  The OECD paints a grim picture of the economy and then we have the little matter of our public servants mismanaging projects.  Not exactly the headlines those in the bunker will wish to see this morning.

U-turns, re-launches, smoke and mirrors, half-truths, dividing lines are the order of the day and for the next nine months, as Brown and his unhappy Cabinet tell us it will be alright on the night.  There is no strategy, just short term fixes to wrong foot the Tories in the forlorn hope that the polls will move and Labour, against all the odds, can scrape home.

When Brown says, ‘I am seeing the country through the recession’ he means ‘I am seeing Labour through to the election’.  The irony for us voters is that we will all pay dearly for these failed policies for years to come.

Digg This

No October election then

The BBC reports that the Norwich North by-election will be held on 23rd July, after the Commons rises for the Summer, with the writ being moved today.  If the recent poll findings mean anything Labour has already lost the seat.

One matter remaining is when the by-election will be held in Glasgow North East, Michael Martin's old seat.  Subrosa left a comment on my earlier post that this may be held on 27th August.  I wonder if there are any further rumours?

As discussed the chosen dates probably rule out an early election being called in October, which now means we have nine wonderful months of failed Brown’s tactics, re-launches and dividing lines to come.

No, I do not consider there will be another plot to to unseat Brown.  Mandy will put a stop to all that.  The Spin Master is now firmly embedded with Brown, as was demonstrated yesterday and by Peter Riddell’s article in The Times.

UPDATE: According to the Daily Record the by-election in Glasgow North East will not be held until November.  The Labour party have ruled out the Summer and writ can only be moved when Parliament is sitting, making November the earliest date.

Digg This

29 June 2009

Building Britain’s future: Mandy and Dave steal the show

Brown rattled off his speech so quickly that I thought at one stage he was going to swallow his tongue.  He was obviously keen to rush back to the comfort the bunker and watch the tennis.  He just treats people with contempt as rushes through his re-worked announcements, using borrowed money, in the hope that no one will pick on the details.

This re-launch was nothing to do with Britain's future but all to do with shoring up the Labour vote and securing Brown’s position.

As discussed earlier, Mandy had already stolen the show with his announcements on Royal Mail and the spending review.  After all the hype over the weekend, perhaps it will be what Cameron said at his press conference that will be remembered:

There is thread of dishonestly running through this premiership.

Indeed there is. Dishonestly over public expenditure and with so much else that Brown’s gets his hands on.  He can’t even organise an inquiry without cocking the whole thing up.

After today, there will be many more re-launches before the sands of time run out for Our Dear leader.

Digg This

An admission that Mandy was wrong

At the Lobby briefing, the Prime Minister's spokesman said this about the date of the spending review:

The exact timing is a matter for the Chancellor and he will set out his position in a future pre-budget report and budget.

A clear indication as any we will get that Mandy over stepped the mark on Today earlier.

No question that the announcements on the delay to the spending review and the part sell-off of Royal Mail were intended to buried by Brown’s big re-launch.  The problem is that Mandy has rather stolen the agenda, first with his FT interview and then on Today.

It would seem obvious, but why was it decided that Mandy would give his FT interview before Brown fired off the election campaign starting gun.  It would have been better if the burying of the bad news had come after Brown’s announcement, so not to overshadow our failed leader’s  big day.  The co-ordination of the No10 spin operation has backfired rather badly.

Digg This

Will Darling resign?

No further evidence is needed that Mandy now runs the Government.  Following on from the weekend speculation, the real Prime Minster announced on the Today programme that there would be no spending review this side of the election.  Note the slight hesitation when Mandy realised what he had said.

There are a number of issues at stake here apart from Darling’s authority.  One, the Treasury had let it be known that no decision had been taken.  Two, an announcement like this – even for this failing and spinning government -  is usually made to the Commons.  Three, has this announcement only been discussed Brown, Mandy and Balls without Darling’s involvement?  It certainly appears that way.

Darling’s authority and credibility has been destroyed.  He has no choice but to resign.

Digg This

Brown is cutting public services

On the day that Brown launches his last gasp panic re-launch, ‘Building Britain’s Future’, there is now proof that public expenditure cuts are already underway.  The Times reports:

Police forces must cut spending by £480 million this year, prompting fears that officer numbers may fall when increasing unemployment could bring a surge in crime.

The Metropolitan Police, the largest force, is planning cuts of £366 million over the next three years despite having to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games. Staff costs account for three quarters of the Met’s annual budget and it has not ruled out a reduction in officer numbers.

Andy Hayman, the former Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police comments:

It is hard to see how chief constables can make further savings in their budgets without cutting officer numbers. Continuing to say that shrinking budgets are down to achieving “efficiency targets” is a claim that lacks credibility. We are now talking about real cutbacks that will affect policing at the worst possible time.

You won’t hear anything about this today, but just remember Brown’s hollow words about Labour’s investment against Tory cuts as he splashes money around, when in reality there is none.

Digg This

Mandy spins his U-turn: The Royal Mail sell-off is no more

You have to hand it to Mandy as he spins the mother of all U-turns.  In an interview with the FT, he says the part sell-off of Royal Mail is being "jostled for space" in the government's legislative programme:

I want to retain the slot, but... I have to concede that the original linking of the legislative passage and the bidding process for the strategic partner has been decoupled.

In other words, due to the recession, the sell-off would not raise the necessary money to make it worthwhile, not forgetting that the plans would only pass into law with Tory support.

On the day Brown launches “Building Britain’s Future” it is admitted that the Government can't get a major plank of the legislative programme onto the statue book.

There is nothing like keeping the troops happy as Good Ship Labour heads for the rocks.

Digg This

28 June 2009

Shoring up Labour’s core vote

The Sunday Times has a superb piece on the public spending debate.  Firstly, the article lays out how the various percentages are arrived at.  Marvellous stuff for members, like me, of ‘Using Match Sticks to Understand Economics Society’:

The nub of the debate, however, is what happens to “current” spending on services. On the face of it Brown can claim there will be a 0.7% annual real-terms rise during the next parliament. But Robert Chote, director of the IFS, pointed out that Brown’s apparent increases quickly turn to cuts when new, unavoidable – and unwelcome – spending is taken into account. Interest payments on the government’s huge borrowing will rise 8.4% a year while spending on social security will go up by an annual 1.7% and other unavoidable elements will climb 1.9%.

That means, according to the IFS’s calculations, that other departmental spending will be cut 2.3% a year from 2011, reaching 7% over three years. If health and overseas aid were maintained, it would mean cuts for other departments would rise to 9.7% over three years, close to the 10% figure quoted by Lansley.

It gets worse. Balls has suggested most of his education budget will be preserved. In that case, according to Chote, the scale of the cuts Labour would have to make for other departments would rise to 13.5% over three years.

In other words, the Tories are spot on with their analysis.  However, this is not worrying Brown down in the bunker.  It is the panic that has set in after the recent election results:

We don’t care if the commentators or the economists turn against us, said one minister. This is all about shoring up the base in the northern heart-lands, which we lost in the European elections. We don’t want or need them to understand the nuance of the argument. We just want them to hate the Tories again.

Of course, Brown doesn't want people to understand the details.  He is got away with treating people like fools for years.  The point here is that Labour’s electoral prospects are so bleak that the overriding priority is to protect the party’s core vote.  What makes matters worse for Brown is that he is failing to achieve this as the polls are showing Labour is stuck in the low 20’s.

Prepare yourself for a huge propaganda blitz from Brown central this week.  The irony is most of us will not be listening as we soak up the sun or watch the tennis.  Let us pray that Brown does not wish Andy Murray good luck.  If he does, you can safely place a bet on him losing his next match.

Digg This

Balls speaks. Whose words are they?

Balls on the Marr show:

There's going to be tough choices.  We're going have to be defter and smarter.

I wonder whose words he was using.  MacBride’s or Mandy’s?

Digg This

‘Building Britain's Future’ on U-turns

Brown’s U-turns are going to come thick and fast in the weeks to come.

Exhibit 1: Brown will announce that cancer patients will be provided with private treatment if none is available on the NHS.

Exhibit 2: The replacement for the Trident nuclear deterrent is under review and cuts may well be on the way.

Exhibit 3: Watch for the part sell-off of the Royal Mail to be dumped in the coming days.  The 2nd reading of the Bill in the Commons has yet to be announced.

Expect more crowd pleasing initiatives from Brown in the hope that the polls will turn.  There is little evidence that they will with the latest putting the Tories back up to 40%.

‘Building Britain's Future’ should be renamed ‘Brown’s Desperate U-Turns’.

If proof were need that the Labour has run out of ideas, the Institute for Public Policy Research will carry out it’s own U-turn on Monday and declare the New Labour project “dead”.

Brown is running out of time, ideas and options.  More importantly, who is listening and believing in what he says.

Digg This

Balls tells half truths over speaking to McBride


McBride is alive and kicking and still in contact with his best mate Ed Balls.  The Observer has this:

The children's secretary, a long-term friend of the former Treasury aide and one of Gordon Brown's closest allies, is thought to have relied heavily on McBride's advice in the past. Some senior ministers who believe they were briefed against by McBride suspect him of attacking rivals to build up Balls's leadership credentials. Asked whether he had been in contact with Labour's most notorious pariah, Balls confirmed that he had, but suggested it was purely social: "I certainly wished him a happy birthday. As I said [when he resigned], Damian did a very stupid thing, he's paid a very heavy price, but we all get on with our jobs."

Only wished him happy birthday!  Well he would say that.  The Scotland on Sunday has already reported that McBride is back in the fold and the subject of his return has been raised at PMQs.

And we all thought Brown would change his ways.  Some hope.

Not flash.  Just plain stupid Gordon.

Digg This

27 June 2009

When Brown’s troubles really started

Ben Brogan goes through all the hoops and then back again, as he discusses whether Brown will stay to fight the election.  I take issue with this:

….he [Brown] is also a politician who has made a career of tactical retreats and the avoidance of unwinnable contests. His critics say the greatest example was his failure to stand for the Labour leadership in 1994….

Brogan forgets that Brown could and should have stood against John Smith in 1992 following Kinnock’s resignation.  He was encouraged to do so by Blair, and to a lesser extent by Mandy, but backed off.  That directly lead to Blair taking the initiative when John Smith died in 1994.  The subsequent three times election winner concluded that Brown had his chance and failed to take it.

It could be argued that the doubts Blair and Mandy had over Brown started in 1992, rather than the more common assumption that it was in 1994 when the so called ‘Granita’ deal was done.

The seeds of Brown’s present troubles were possibly sown back in 1992 when he failed to act decisively.  A characteristic that has repeated itself ever since.

Digg This

Not a happy 2nd anniversary morning in the bunker

On the morning that marks the second anniversary of Brown’s rise to the top of the greasy pole, a good supply of mobile phones will be needed by Downing Street:

1. The PM’s plans to embarrass the Tories over the their second jobs are going to backfire as Labour MPs are refusing to part with their outside earnings;

2. The Clerk of the House of Commons has criticised Brown’s bid to clean up the Commons;

3. Master Benn has said the spending cuts are unavoidable; and

4. Brown is going to love this piece from the Indy’s Andrew Grice.  The headline will make his day:

It's your choice: Dodgy Gordon or Honest David

And this puts the icing on the anniversary cake:

In adversity, the Tories suspect they have stumbled over a core theme – honesty. No, Mr Cameron is not going to repeat Mr Blair's mistake of promising to be "whiter than white," which would only invite ridicule in the current climate. But the Tories may be on to something. In the last two sessions of Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Cameron has chided Mr Brown for not being "straight" with the public about Labour's spending plans. That will ring true with many voters.

Luckily for Brown, these nuggets are hard to find this morning, but I am sure the enthusiastic staff in No10 will carry out their duties to perfection and highlight these pieces and then beat a hasty retreat.

Digg This

26 June 2009

One of my favourite photos

imageLabour's Tony Benn and Denis Healey during their party's conference in 1981.  Note Edna in the background.

The photo appears at the top of this article in The Guardian.  The debt of gratitude that the Labour party owes to Healey has never been fully recognised.  If Healey had lost that deputy leadership contest the party would have split.  If my memory is correct the photo was taken before the vote.

Digg This

Does Brown think the G20 failed?

You remember the days when Brown believed he was walking on water and the world came to pay homage to him in London?  That is right, the long forgotten G20 submit.

Here are his opening words from his speech today on climate change:

There are very few moments in history when nations are summoned to common decisions that will reshape the lives of every man, woman and child on the planet for generations to come. When leaders have to consider not just what will deliver fairness in their generation, but fairness between the generations too.

•  the creation of the Bretton Woods architecture of the post-war economy

•  the Marshall Plan that rebuilt the post-war economy of Europe.

No mention of the G20.  What is a matter with you man.  You're losing your touch.

Perhaps Brown is suffering from short-term memory loss, or maybe he is being honest for once and that the G20 wasn't that memorable after all.

Digg This

Saving Norwich North

So, Brown is having another one of his ‘save the world’ moments today.  The poor lad will be lucky if he mentioned in despatches if the Today programme was anything to go by this morning.

When he gets back to the bunker I have the feeling more mobile phones will be needed.  There is the little local difficulty of Norwich North and when to call the by-election.  These poll findings will not be welcome:

If there was an election tomorrow 34% of people would vote for the Conservatives, 30% for Labour, 15% for the Liberal Democrats, 14% for the Green Party, and 7% for others.

So, a July by-election there probably will not be.  As I discussed, there is little point anyway if Brown wants to keep the option of an October election open.

One to watch, as if the by-election is to be on 23rd July the writ has to be moved next week.

Digg This

No, it wasn't a ‘where were you moment’

I don't think so, do you?

I remember were I was when Kennedy was assassinated, when Churchill died; when Armstrong landed on the moon, when Nixon resigned; when Mandela walked out of prison; when Thatcher called it a day; when Diana died; and even when the Queen Mother passed away.  I can even remember where I was when Blair had his Clause 4 moment.  It was his finest hour.

But to describe Michael Jackson's death as one of those ‘where were you moments’ is going a bit far.  All he did was sing and many other unsavoury crimes and misdemeanours besides.

Digg This

My sympathies go to….

… the families of servicemen killed in action in the various wars and conflicts that the nation is involved in.

I have never been a fan of Michael Jackson and will not be joining the public grief that will take place all over the world.  I can grieve for someone I knew but can’t for a celebrity that made no impact on my life.  Harsh and cold maybe, but that is my view.

Digg This

25 June 2009

A major policy announcement

In this age of transparency I have decided on a new policy for this blog.  On the last working day of each month instead of publishing the meaningless Google Analytics statistics, I will reveal my expenses to the nation.  I feel strongly that I do the same as MPs and BBC executives.

At the end of each month you will be able to see how much I have spent on vintage champagne, my costs in entertaining leading celebrities, details of all private jets hired, IT expenditure and what I spend on food.  As a foretaste of what is to come you may like to know that my largest monthly outlay is on replacement Nokia phones.

I have not taken this decision lightly.  However, as the nation has been transfixed by the publication of BBC executives’ expenses, I know I have taken the right decision.

I do appreciate that some readers of this blog will die of boredom when they read the post on my expenses, but I have no choice in the matter.  Public funding of this blog must be maintained so I can carry on broadcasting the Government's message to the nation.

The income from the licence fee also means that this blog does not need to display any advertising.

I trust my readers fully understand that I have no choice but to comply with the Brown’s wishes at this time. 

Digg This

Iraq inquiry: Shock horror

Following John Kampfer’s revelations in The Spectator, Downing Street has denied that Brown did a deal with Tony Blair via Mandy to keep the Iraq war inquiry private:

The Prime Minister's spokesman dismissed the claim, saying there was a "fatal flaw" in it, because the inquiry was to be in public and he rejected suggestions that was only because the deal had fallen apart after mounting pressure for the inquiry to be in public.

"The one flaw is that we are not having the inquiry in secret. We would certainly deny any suggestion the Prime Minister did any such deal," he said.

Come again.  Obviously all of us have misunderstood the situation.  Perhaps the PMS has forgotten that the original proposal was for the inquiry to be held in private.

The “fatal flaw” was the assumption by Blair and Mandy that Brown would be able to close the deal on the inquiry as they both wished.

There is nothing like rewriting history before it is written.

Digg This

Iraq inquiry: Brown has failed Mandy and Blair

Little surprise that Brown, Blair et all wanted the Iraq inquiry held in private.  In the Commons debate on the inquiry yesterday Michael Mates, a member of the Butler inquiry who saw all the legal advice and intelligence, said this:

There are papers which have flown between very senior representatives of government and ministers...which will make certain people's eyes water.

Now this from John Kampfer in today's Spectator.  He claims Mandy extracted a promise of a private inquiry to shield Blair as the price for helping Brown see off the attempt by Labour MPs to oust him:

Mandelson — on Blair’s behalf — set down specific conditions for the Iraq war inquiry. The deal, I am told, was explicit. Not only would the hearings be fully in private, but the committee would, as with Hutton, be manageable. Brown was instructed to ensure that the members of the inquiry would, in the words of one official, ‘not stir the horses’. Brown readily acquiesced. He was not in a position to do anything else. It was a done deal, even before James Purnell sent alarm bells through Downing Street with his resignation on the night of 4 June.

No wonder Alastair Campbell keeps repeating on his blog that he was not consulted about the nature of the inquiry.  He was at it again last night, no doubt after being tipped off about the article in the Spectator:

He [Hague] claimed that I had been consulted about the nature of the inquiry, seeking to draw a contrast with others who had not been. He also sought to give the impression I pressed the government to go for a private inquiry.

As I explained here a few days ago, that is not so.

What a carry on.  These wonderful islands have a prime minister who is sustained in office by Mandy only because Brown agreed to hold the Iraq inquiry in private, which is now not the case.

As the inquiry will now be held in public does the logic follow that Mandy now dumps Brown?  One day we may, if we're lucky, get the truth of what goes on behind the closed doors of this failed administration.

Digg This

Jacqui Smith has had a ‘horrible’ time with our money

Public sympathy is the name of the game.  First Brown, in his Guardian interview, and now Jacqui Smith looks for the same over her expenses claims.

Thankfully we were spared any tears.

On the issue of her resignation - which came days before a host of other ministers quit - she said the news had been leaked early against her wishes.

What a surprise!  Since when has Brown taken others into consideration?

These MPs just don't get it and possibly never will.

Digg This

24 June 2009

Exclusive: New Cabinet bonus scheme announced

Cabinet members have been meeting in secret since the expenses scandal hit the headlines to come up with innovative ways to maintain their income levels.  Tonight a new bonus scheme has been announced that will considerably increase their take-home pay.

Every time a U-turn is announced by a Cabinet member he or she will be rewarded with a bonus of £5,000.  The bonuses will be funded by the Prince of Wales following the outcry over his latest accounts.  Gordon Brown has already let it be known that any bonuses he receives will go towards paying off government debt.  The Treasury calculates that government borrowing will be reduced considerably and there is even talk of a surplus being announced on the eve of the general election.

This panic measure will be introduced immediately and follows Mervyn King’s latest outburst of earlier today.

Digg This

Bercow has a dream

The new Speaker did well at PMQs but then decided to tell the Commons about a recent dream:

When Ministers have key policy statements to make the House must be the first to hear them, and they should not be released beforehand.

Brown has called an emergency session of the Cabinet for later today to discuss this matter.  Our Dear Leader admitted that this announcement totally undermines how this Government operates.

The BBC Management will meet in emergency session to discuss how the long silences in future editions of the Today can be filled.

Finally, it has been announced that both Nick Robinson and Robert Peston, two of Brown’s most prominent spokesman, have been put on part-time working until further notice.

Digg This

In support of other bloggers

Lord Elvis of Paisley decided last week to stop blogging and explained why.  He has had a change of heart and has asked fellow bloggers to link to his latest post, which I am happy do.

Following on from the outing of Nightjack, Lord Elvis should be encouraged to continue whether or not we agree with his views.  We bloggers shouldn't play into Murdoch hands but continue to debate and argue on subjects that we feel strongly about using the medium that we have available.

Keep going bloggers.  Don’t be intimidated by Murdoch and his henchmen.

Digg This

The establishment is alive and well

Can you believe that in 21st century Britain a chap stands up and reads this out.  Either he is on something or I should be!  Also look out for Jack Straw in his establishment role.

Unbelievable stuff.  New Labour.  Old Britain.

As Prescott would say, ‘Tradition in a modern old fashioned setting.’

Digg This

The Iraq inquiry: Chilcot clears up Brown’s cock up

The Guardian reports this morning that Blair and Brown will be summoned to to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry, which will now be held mainly in public.  As the paper says:

The move to open up his hearings, which came on the eve of a Commons debate on the inquiry, shows that a wholesale change of the terms has been carried out since the inquiry was established by the prime minister last week.

Other changes announced:

• Expert assessors, including retired senior military officers, public and constitutional law experts and experts on post-war reconstruction, will support the five members of the inquiry. These experts could cross-examine witnesses.

• Chilcot has indicated that he remains open to the idea of publishing an interim report, according to Clegg. The Lib Dems and Tories want an interim report to be published before the general election. Chilcot, whose inquiry is not due to report until July 2010, is expected to be highly cautious about publishing on the eve of the election.

• Witnesses will not, as expected, be required to swear an oath. But Clegg says Chilcot has indicated that he will specify to witnesses in writing and verbally that their evidence must be truthful.

In a further embarrassment for Brown, Chilcot has indicated that the membership of inquiry team was too narrow, implying that further changes could well be on the way.

Presumably one of the consequences of the inquiry being held in public is that it will now take longer.  Chilcot, rightly, will not wish his inquiry to become a political football in the run up to an election if it is held next year.  It matters little if the inquiry's report is delayed by several months.  What does matter is that Chilcot is credible, authoritative and, moreover, believed by the public.

Cameron should highlight the way Brown has totally mismanaged the setting up of this inquiry at PMQs.  He has more own goals to aim at than he could ever hope for.

Digg This

MPs’ expenses: Why anonymity matters

Newsnight had a compelling interview with the middle man involved in passing on the details of MPs’ expenses.  Henry Gewanter makes a very convincing case why he acted as he did and why anonymity matters:

I will say though that there were conditions which involved protecting the sources and that included the possibility of legal defence.

It is important that this whistleblower's protected from possible repercussions so I can't discuss anything about them.

Shame on the The Times and Daniel Finkelstein that the same principles are not adhered to by the Murdoch press.  Both clearly felt it was the right and proper to out Nightjack as it is in the best interests of News International, no matter what the consequences for the individual concerned.

Does The Times think that Gewanter should have exposed the whistleblower on Newsnight or at any other time.  Somehow, I doubt it.

Digg This

23 June 2009

The big worry for Brown

There has been little movement in the polls since the European and local elections and this is confirmed by the new MORI poll:

CON 38%(-1), LAB 21%(-4), LDEM 19%(nc)

Anthony Wells notes:

Perhaps more interestingly, significantly more people (41%) said they thought the economy would get better over the next twelve months- the highest figure MORI have recorded in 12 years.

We need more evidence, but Brown and Mandy should be very concerned about these findings.  Labour are getting little credit as voters become more optimistic about economy.  Brown’s last stand on Tory cuts against Labour investment is not resonating with the electorate.

Note: As Brown demonstrated on his BBC lunchtime interview, he is becoming increasingly delusional about MPs expenses, believing the electorate will give him thanks for sorting the mess out.

Digg This

When will the by-elections be held

I have discussed before when the by-election in Michael Martin's former seat could be called to mitigate damage to Labour.  The matter pops up again this morning:

Gordon Brown is under pressure to move the writ for the Norwich North by-election this week, or face the risk of losing the seat in the autumn, so reopening the arguments about his leadership.

He has delayed partly because he wants to hold the Norwich vote at the same time as the by-election in Glasgow North East, being held due to the retirement of the Speaker Michael Martin.

As also noted:

….if the by-election is not held on July 16 or July 23, with the writ moved almost immediately, it cannot take place until after parliament returns in October.

If the by-elections are not called for July, this possibly gives a clue as to whether Brown is considering an October election.  If he is, but has not finally decided, there is little point in moving the writs now.   Only if he has ruled out an October election will the by-elections be held at the end of July, after the Commons has adjourned for the Summer recess.

Digg This

Give Bercow a chance

Reading the press this morning it would seem that Bercow is a dead man walking before he has even decided to wear the Speaker’s wig.  Both Tory Bear and Rachel Sylvester give their views and Paul Linford’s comments are worth noting.

Let us give Bercow his chance, let him find his feet and prove that he can bring reform to the Commons and stand up to the executive.  He can make a start at PMQs by dealing head on with the Labour planted questions and insisting Brown gives straight answers.

To rephrase the question that R A Butler was once famously asked about his prime minister:

Would you say that this is the best Speaker we have? Answer: Yes.

If Bercow doesn't prove himself there is a simple mechanism for the removing him after the election, when a sitting Speaker has to seek re-election.

It is everyone's interests, no matter what was behind his election, that he is given the opportunity and backing of all MPs to succeed.

Digg This

22 June 2009

Oh well. It was fun. Well done John Bercow

Some things never change.  I never win bets.  Let us hope that the Commons now unites behind Bercow (the Tory benches did not look that pleased) and he makes a success of being Speaker.

Digg This

Will George win?

Young v Bercow in the 3rd round.  All other candidates have withdrawn.

Come on George, make my day.

Digg This

Chilcot: Iraq inquiry will be in public

More bad news for our Dear Leader.  In a letter to Gordon Brown, Sir John Chilcot said:

I believe it will be essential to hold as much of the proceedings of the Inquiry as possible in public, consistent with the need to protect national security and to ensure and enable complete candour in the oral and written evidence from witnesses.

More mobile phones will have to be replaced tonight.

Digg This

Come on George

My man is well placed.  These candidates go through:

Bercow: 179
Young: 112
Beckett: 74
Haselhurst: 66
Beith: 55
Widdecombe: 44

The good news is that Brown’s little plan backfired.  I big V-sign to the whips.

Digg This

Have I picked the winner?

My man did well.  It is about time I won some money.

Come on George!

Digg This

A failed bank and a failed country

RBS fails and the new chief executive gets £9.6m from the taxpayer.

Zimbabwe fails and gets £5m from the taxpayer.

More delusion from Brown:

There are great signs of progress, a budget and economic plan are in place, schools are reopening, children are once again filling the classrooms.

I bet he honestly believes what he says about a country where over half the population need food aid, i.e. are staving.

Digg This

The Iraq kidnapping: More of the same from Brown

Brown says the government had “left no stone” unturned in efforts to free the hostages.  Graeme Moore, father of one of the hostages held in Iraq, hits out at the Foreign Office:

They haven’t done anything. They should have been straight in directing negotiations right from the beginning.

And on Brown’s role:

….the PM can make the time and effort to telephone both Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan but he wouldn't contact families waiting to learn the fate of their sons kidnapped in Iraq.


Interesting, is is not, that for Brown everything become a priority not only when tragedy happens but when headlines are made.

Not flash, just Gordon.

Digg This

Easy money from the taxpayer

The BBC is reporting that RBS’s chief executive, Stephen Hester, is likely to receive a pay package of £9.6m providing certain performance benchmarks are achieved:

Mr Hester would only get the maximum remuneration if the share price were to hit 70p, which would give the taxpayer a profit of £8bn.

Mr Hester would only get the maximum remuneration if the share price were to hit 70p, which would give the taxpayer a profit of £8bn.

Lending more money would be risky and might not be compatible with big growth in the RBS share price.

In other words, a higher share price is more beneficial to Hester than lending to the customers, the good old British taxpayer.

And don’t forget, in April, RBS announced 9,000 job cuts, having made a loss of £24.1bn in 2008 - the largest loss in UK corporate history.

It must be a good day to bury bad news!

Digg This

The new Speaker: The election you won't see

image image

We arrive at the great day when a new speaker is elected and what a spectacle it won’t be.  Oh yes, you will see the speeches of the candidates and the new speaker being dragged to the chair.  Apart from that nothing.  The votes are by secret ballot and all we will have to keep us amused are pictures of the Commons chamber with MPs milling about.

In the new age of transparency what we will probably not have is a politically impartial election.  Read all about it here, here and here.

The key time is 10.30, which is the cut-off for candidates to declare.  Stand-by to see is if a dark-horse enters the field or whether any of the 10 candidates so far declared drops out.  Each candidate must be nominated by 12 MPs from more than one party.

Let us all hope that MPs surprise us all today, defy the whips and elect a Speaker that will stand up to the executive and bring about real reform.  We can live in hope.

Without the whips poking their noses in, George Young should be the one to watch.  Several reasons.  One is clean on expenses, has the experience to do the job and is not a Labour MP.

In truth, anything could happen and probably will with Brown and his henchmen pulling the stings.  It will be brave person who puts a bet on until the runners and riders are declared later this morning.

Digg This

21 June 2009

What Twitter thinks of you


If you are not interested in grown men driving cars round in circles or Lord’s being turned into a base ball arena, try you hand at this.  The web site builds a psychological profile of you based on the content of your tweets.

If you can work what the results mean let me know.

Digg This